Rendezvous With Yesterday(2)

By: Dianne Duvall

She opted not to grumble over him not wanting her to accompany him. She knew he didn’t mean it in a you’re-a-puny-girl-and-shouldn’t-be-running-with-the-big-boys kind of way. He just loved her and wanted to protect her. They had lost both of their parents by the time Beth turned eighteen and Josh twenty-four, so the two of them were all each other had.

As she opened the passenger door and got out, Beth’s triumphant smile transmogrified into a grimace. No longer held at bay by the struggling air conditioner, heat and humidity assaulted her, sparking instant misery.

She opened the back door as Josh circled to the trunk. Kingsley and Vergoma’s case files lay on the back seat, along with a stun gun, pepper spray, two pairs of handcuffs, leg irons, and a couple of navy blue jackets with BAIL ENFORCEMENT emblazoned on the back in bright yellow letters.

Beth reluctantly donned the smaller jacket, more to thwart West Nile-carrying mosquitoes than to identify herself as a bounty hunter and prevent any confusion if law enforcement should arrive on the scene.

Law enforcement wouldn’t arrive on this scene. They didn’t even know this place existed.

She pulled out the backpack.

Josh halted when he saw it. “What’s that?”

“Marc made me promise to bring it.”

“What the hell for? What’s in it?”

“Water, first aid stuff, my cell phone, extra ammo…” She tucked her arms through the loops and hoisted it onto her back. “Marc packed most of it. He said it’s best to be prepared for anything.” Marc was their next-door neighbor and closest friend.

“You are not bringing that,” Josh informed her. “Take it off.”

“No. I told him I’d wear it.”

“You only agreed to bring it because you’re attracted to him.”

Guilty heat stole into her cheeks. “I am not.”

“Yes, you are. You know damn well if he weren’t seeing someone else, you would have jumped him by now.”

She sure as hell would have. Marc was hot. “What woman wouldn’t? He’s freaking gorgeous.” Over six feet tall with a tight, muscled body. Black hair that fell several inches below broad shoulders. A neatly trimmed mustache and beard she had fantasized about abrading her skin. A chiseled jaw. Soulful eyes so dark brown they almost matched his hair.

Yeah. She would’ve totally jumped him if he weren’t taken.

“Besides, Marc isn’t a bounty hunter,” Josh pointed out.

“No, but we’ve both suspected for some time now that he works for the CIA or FBI or one of those other agencies that has something to do with national security.” Marc claimed he worked in the private security business, but… “All those weird hours he keeps. The monochromatic wardrobe.”

“Dude always wears black,” Josh muttered.

“The cloak-and-dagger secrecy crap, and the wounds we’ve seen him come home with late at night. It’s like living next door to a freaking agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Josh shook his head as he pulled his jacket on over the shoulder holster that encased his Glock 9mm. “The pack stays, Beth.” He thrust the handcuffs in one pocket, the pepper spray in the other, and clipped the stun gun to his belt. “It’ll only slow you down. Especially in this heat.”

The heat index was supposed to reach a hundred and ten today. Typical Houston summer.

Beth raised her chin as she looped the strap of their pistol-grip shotgun over one shoulder. “The pack goes.”

Almost against his will it seemed, Josh smiled. “You think you have enough weapons there, sport?”

She glanced down. With two 9mms, the shotgun, and the tiny .22 Josh didn’t even know she had tucked in one boot, she supposed she did.

Beth sent him a teasing grin. “I don’t know. I think I could use a few more.”

Shaking his head, he popped the trunk and reached inside. “You know how rarely bounty hunters have to draw weapons.”

“When they aren’t butching it up on TV,” she added.

“Exactly. In all this time, I’ve only drawn mine once. And I’ve only had to use the stun gun twice.”

She shrugged. “Marc said there was something about these guys that made him nervous. I trust his instincts.” And her own. Despite the bravado she attempted to convey, she kept feeling like something was going to go very, very wrong.

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